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In a recent presentation in Debrecen, Richard Werner, an economics professor at the University of Winchester, stated that economic growth itself is not harmful to the environment, instead it is pollution and environmental damage that must be halted. He argued that economic growth does not always reflect actual growth. Rather, GDP and national income are mere statistical concepts that emerged 200-300 years ago, when actors of the financial sector tried to find indicators to assess the strength of an economy by compiling statistical data sets. Economic growth is necessary to create prosperity and to afford the cost of protecting the environment. It is a necessary condition. "The greater the economic growth is, the more resources we will have to protect the environment."
The role of government intervention in enhancing market outcomes was another intriguing and thought-provoking subject the professor covered in his presentation. In his views, the way we think about government intervention needs to be much more flexible than it has been in the past. According to him, only in a hypothetical Alice in Wonderland-world can government intervention be considered a "distortion" and "inefficient." In reality, markets are always regulated and, therefore, government intervention can easily improve market outcomes.
Professor Werner presented other approaches to economic development, in particular Friedrich List's development economics, which focused on trade and industrial policy, and German economics based on the Historical School of economics with a broader focus on institutional design and the role of bank credits. He said that these development policies have been successfully applied in Germany and the United States, with lesser-known examples in East Asia.
The Japanese, East Asian (also the title of a 1993 World Bank study), and the Chinese "economic miracle" all stem from these countries borrowing little or nothing from abroad, and adopting policies that were contrary to and forbidden by the IMF and the World Bank, such as the introduction of credit management in the banking system. These policies have enabled these countries to achieve economic independence and, in the case of China, even world power status.